398th Bomb Group

The 398th's Vultee Vengeance

By Wally Blackwell
October 2004

Malcolm Osborn, of the UK 398th Friends organization, has submitted a rare photo (see photo below) of a single engine airplane that was identified on the 398th's official monthly airplane inventory list as:

A-35B, serial number 41-31396.

That mysterious aircraft was a Vultee Vengeance. Note the Triangle W on its tail!

Malcolm reports that the 398th's A-35B was assigned from the 91st Bomb Group to the 398th Bomb Group on 26th of September 1944. It was later reassigned from the 398th Bomb Group to the 435th Air Service Group on the 10th of June 1945.

Of special interest is the fact that this was the last aircraft ever assigned to the 398th BG, and the very last 398th aircraft to leave Station 131 at Nuthampstead. The 398th's Vultee Vengeance was reported to have been flown by the various Squadron commanders and other senior pilots as a "Monitor Ship" for the 398th Group's assembly formations.

The Vultee Vengeance was designed as a dive-bomber by Northrop and manufactured at Hawthorne, CA and Nashville, TN beginning in 1940. The V-72 Vengeance was among the new aircraft types ordered by Great Britain in that year. In March 1941, the US Army Air Corps also placed orders for the Vultee dive-bomber which was then called an A-31. When the plane was fully equipped to Army Air Corps standards, the Vengeance was designated A-35A, and later A-35B. Of the 900 or more versions built only about 350 or so were operated by the Air Corps. Many USAAF A-35's were assigned to target-towing duties. The Vengeance did have successful service early on in the war with the RAF in India and Burma.

It is interesting to note that the Vultee Vengeance did have a close appearance to the Vultee Vibrator which was widely used by the US Army Air Corps in its aviation cadet pilot training program. In that program it was identified as the basic trainer, BT-13, and lived up to its name as a Vibrator because of it's flying characteristics. The BT-13 was used to train would-be pilots for flying on instruments, day and night cross country flights and basic acrobatic maneuvers. We remember them well!

Photo from the Malcolm "Ozzie" Osborn Collection

The 398th's Vultee Vengeance

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